A great picture of Europe, which nicely summarizes some of the things I have been recently saying. It shows the Alps, the natural fence that protects Italy from the rest of Europe. Above the Alps you can see the fertile corridor, the low lands, which connect France and the end of the European part of Russia at the Ural Mountains. After the Uran Mountains the Asian part of Russia begins i.e. Siberia.
Until 1871, when Germany was created, France and Russia were the two great powers, sitting at the two ends of this fertile and easily accessible corridor, which bypasses the Alps and the Carpathian Mountains.
Before Germany was created in 1871, France and Russia were looking at each other very uneasily. Napoleon Bonaparte led the French Army to Russia in 1812. When Germany was created in 1871, there was a new great power in the neighborhood. Now the French had to worry about the Germans, the Russians had to worry about the Germans, and the Germans had to worry about both the French and the Russians.
In the First World War, in 1914, the French and the Russians united against the Germans. In the Second World War, in 1939, the Germans rushed to unite with the Russians against the French. Only when Hitler broke the Nazi-Communist alliance in 1941, the Russians united again with the French. After the Second World War, the European Union was created, with the hope that France and Germany would never go to war again. France even agreed to the unification of Germany, on the condition that the common currency, the euro, would be created.
The common currency, actually the printing of more of the common currency, would act as an automatic transfer of resources from Germany to France, so that the German economy would stop embarrassing the French one. Today there is a clash between France and Germany, with France asking for more and more printing of new currency, which basically is a German subsidy to France, and Germany always denying to do so, but giving in at the end, but not for the amount that France had originally asked for.
There is therefore a constant bargaining between Germany and France, and there is a fear that at some point France will insist on receiving from Germany a subsidy, in the form of printing of new money, that the Germans will not accept, and that this will lead to the break of the Eurozone. In case the Eurozone breaks, Germany has a plan B in order to confront France, and that plan B is Russia, with whom Germany has been cultivating tighter and tighter economic ties. France’s plan B was to join NATO in 2009, 43 years after the French national socialist leader De Gaul withdrew France from the alliance in 1966. With NATO’s help, France is hoping to face Germany and Russia in Europe, and also face China in Africa. Given France’s tradition in national socialism and communism, and given France’s anti-Americanism, this must have been a tough, but necessary, decision.
Now we have to wait and see how things turn out in this historic corridor that starts in France and ends in Russia, passing through Germany. This is a corridor that both Napoleon and Hitler decided to cross in the 19th and the 20th centuries, with catastrophic results for both.
A great book about the clash between France and Germany for the Euro is “The Tragedy of the Euro” by Philip Bagus. You can get a free copy of the book at the following address.